InvestmentsFeb 23 2023

River and Mercantile workforce cut by 22% since AssetCo takeover

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River and Mercantile workforce cut by 22% since AssetCo takeover
Martin Gilbert has reduced the workforce at River and Mercantile by 22 per cent in nine months

The number of employees at River and Mercantile dropped 22 per cent in the nine months between the company being bought by AssetCo and the end of its financial year in September 2022.

The information is contained in the annual report and accounts of AssetCo, which is chaired by Martin Gilbert, and has on its shareholders register City private equity veteran Christopher Mills and Toscafund.

AssetCo acquired control of the River and Mercantile business in January 2022, and in the annual report the company stated that operating costs for River and Mercantile fell by just under £10mn - from £32mn to £22.5mn during the period of AssetCo’s ownership. 

A big part of that cost saving came from a drop in the operating costs bill of 22 per cent in cash terms, which also equates to a reduction of 22 per cent in the number of employees.

Those figures exclude the staff that transferred out of the business when River and Mercantile sold its solutions business to Schroders. 

In the AssetCo annual report, Gilbert wrote: “Our mission to improve and grow otherwise attractive asset management businesses began with tackling an initial cost base of £32m of annualised costs at the point of announcing our acquisition in January 2022.

"This was cut aggressively to £22.5m in annualised costs by the financial year end 2022, after adjusting for pipeline committed savings. Nonetheless, it was the principal driver of the loss made by the group of £9m after interest and tax for the year. An aggressive assault on continuing costs is on-going and remains a key focus of the coming year.”

AssetCo chief executive Campbell Fleming, added: “Considerable attention is being paid to reducing costs, in line with comments on right sizing the organisation made at the time of acquisition.

:The sale of its UK Solutions offerings, prior to River and Mercantile's acquisition by AssetCo, followed by the sale of its US Solutions shortly thereafter, delivered a business with a larger operating infrastructure than was necessary to run the remaining active equities asset management business.

"Shrinking this operating model to one more appropriate to River and Mercantile's reduced and simplified business going forward has been a key focus. Since announcing the deal in January 2022, River and Mercantile's full time headcount (excluding employees who transferred with the Solutions sale) has been reduced by 22 per cent, and the annualised operating costs also by 22 per cent by year end.” 

Fleming wrote that further cost savings have been identified from the River and Mercantile business. 

Among those likely to be assisting Gilbert and Fleming to implement the changes at River and Mercantile is Gordon Neilly.